Karina Canellakis

Chief Conductor, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Principal Guest Conductor, London Philharmonic Orchestra

© Mathias Bothor


Karina Canellakis is the newly appointed Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, with both appointments beginning in the 2019/20 season. In September 2020 she will begin her role as Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Internationally acclaimed for her emotionally charged performances, technical command and interpretive depth, Karina’s reputation has risen quickly since winning the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award in 2016.

She makes several notable debuts in the 2019/20 season, including Philadelphia Orchestra, the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Atlanta and Minnesota, London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. With a strong presence at European summer festivals, Karina also makes debut appearances at St Denis Festival with Orchestre Philharmonique du Radio France and Edinburgh International Festival with BBC Scottish Symphony, and returns to Bregenz Festspiele with Wiener Symphoniker with a programme featuring the third act of Wagner’s Siegfried. Other notable re-invitations include Orchestre de Paris, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Houston and Toronto symphonies and the LA Philharmonic for performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

On the operatic stage, Karina returns this season to Opernhaus Zurich, where she will lead a fully staged production of Verdi’s Requiem. Last season she conducted critically acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni with the Curtis Opera Theater at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. She has also conducted Die Zauberflöte with Opernhaus Zurich, Le nozze di Figaro with Curtis Opera Theatre, and gave the world premiere of David Lang’s opera The Loser at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 2017 Karina led Peter Maxwell Davies’ final opera, The Hogboon, with Luxembourg Philharmonic.

Download Karina’s full 2019/20 biography


Performance Schedule

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    19:30 16 Apr 2021 Royal Festival Hall, LONDON

    JOHANNES BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
    JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15

    Piano: Stephen Hough
    London Philharmonic Orchestra

From The Green Room

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    06 Apr 20 LPO appoints Karina Canellakis as principal guest conductor

    “…Canellakis burst on to the British orchestral scene last summer when she conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the opening night of the Proms. But her relationship with the London Philharmonic Orchestra began the previous autumn when she made her debut with them at the Royal Festival Hall. The spark was immediate, she says.“We musically fell in love with each other. Our temperaments are perfectly matched,” she says. “The LPO can literally play anything, and they can do it so quickly that the amount of rehearsal time they need to get to the absolute highest level is so small that I was amazed and impressed. “We can create something really special in all the different corners of the repertoire I want to explore together.”…”
    The Guardian, Imogen Tilden, 6 April 2020

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    08 Mar 20 Strauss / Ravel London Symphony Orchestra debut
    The Barbican

    ”Karina Canellakis, making her conducting debut with the LSO, gave us beautifully fluent accounts of Strauss’s 1946 Symphonic Fantasy on his 1919 opera Die Frau ohne Schatten and early tone poem Death and Transfiguration (1889), and of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and “choreographic poem” La valse.”
    The Sunday Times, Paul Driver, 15 March 2020

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    26 Oct 19 Shostakovich San Francisco Symphony debut
    Davies Symphony Hall

    ”In the Prokoviev sprint and the Shostakovich marathon, Canellakis impressed equally. …. Canellakis uses large sweeping motions invariably to telegraph every aspect of the music. Her consistency and unflagging, visible control were especially important in maintaining focus through the sprawling, demanding “Leningrad” Symphony.”
    Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice, 29 October 2019


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    20 Oct 19 Beethoven / Strauss Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin
    Berliner Philharmonie

    Inaugural concert as Principal Guest Conductor

    ”Canellakis […]discovers a new side on the much-played piece: a poetic aura beyond the sheer virility.” [TRANSLATION]
    Clemens Haustein, Berliner Zeitung, 22 October 2019

    ”Hardly can one escape this 30-year-old, who has so much musicality and determination. […] Canellakis can let the orchestra rush and revel – while retaining control and compactness.” [TRANSLATION]
    Felix Stephan, Berliner Morgenpost, 22 October 2019

    ”…her conducting style is characterized by energy and vitality, as it was immediately evident in the first work of the programme, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major op. 92” [TRANSLATION]
    Bernd Hoppe, Der Opernfreund, 22 October 2019

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    12 Oct 19 Shostakovich Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchester
    Concertgebouw Amsterdam

    Inaugural concert as Chief Conductor

    ”An occasionally spectacular performance of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony sealed the afternoon. Here too you could constantly taste Canellakis’ pleasure in sound, and her talent for smooth transitions.” [TRANSLATION]
    ★ ★ ★ ★ Mischa Spel, NRC Next, 13 October 2019

    ”Judging from the concert in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee, Canellakis’ quality is far above average. Her passion, coupled with clear gestures and sharpened precision, made the Shostakovich symphony especially an unparalleled five-star experience” [TRANSLATION]
    Peter van den Lint, Trouw, 14 October 2019


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    05 Sep 19 Wagner/Ravel/Bartok Orchestre de Paris opening concert
    Philharmonie de Paris

    ”Karina Canellakis possesses a solid technique, which allows her to navigate the numerous changes of tempo and bring out a clarity of colour and clearness in the polyphony.” [TRANSLATION]
    Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde, 6 September 2019

    ”…she passes without difficulty from the Olympian calm (Lohengrin) to mischievous energy (Bartók) but without ever departing from an admirable elegance.” [TRANSLATION]
    Tristan Labouret,, 5 September 2019

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    19 Jul 19 Di Castri/Dvorak/Janacek BBC Symphony Orchestra
    First Night of the Proms

    ‘’ The BBC Symphony Orchestra under Canellakis, an American, played with feathery delicacy […] the performance of Janáček’s wild, pantheistic Glagolitic Mass was altogether wonderful. Canellakis understands that this music’s wildness is actually best expressed by making Janáček’s often bizarre orchestral textures and jagged rhythms crystal-clear.’’
    ★ ★ ★ ★ Richard Morrison, The Times, 20 July 2019

    ”…Janacek’s word-setting is marvellously equal to the onslaught of his fiercely exuberant massed forces. These were brilliantly governed in any case — by Canellakis, conducting with passionate yet ultra-professional intensity…”
    Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 28 July 2019

    ‘’Dvořák’s The Golden Spinning Wheel […] wove its romantic spell thanks to the precision of the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s playing under Karina Canellakis.’’
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 23 July 2019

    ”…a storming performance of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass…”
    Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian, 27 July 2019

    ‘’Under her [Canellakis] watch, the BBC Symphony Orchestra expertly navigated the shifting celestial and confrontational tones…’’
    Mark Savage, BBC News, 19 July 2019

    ‘’Canellakis drew superb performances from her performers. […] [She]drew fine playing from the orchestra, lovingly creating Dvořák’s colourful and beautiful writing.’’
    Opera Today, 20 July 2019

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    08 Jun 19 Messiaen Dresdner Philharmonie
    Kulturpalast Dresden

    ”Similarly to her reading of the Messiaen, Karina Canellakis diversified the orchestral sound to showcase individual instrumental sections, letting them dominate at times (Brass), without ever sacrificing the attention to detail.” [TRANSLATION]
    Dresdner Neuste Nachrichten, 10 June 2019

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    10 May 19 Elgar / Beethoven Dallas Symphony Orchestra
    Meyerson Symphony Center

    ”The performances she led Thursday night […] were exciting in all the right places, by turns playful and warmly expressive elsewhere.

    Canellakis paced [Elgar] flawlessly, letting it surge when it wanted to, elsewhere lingering just so over passing beauties.

    Canellakis made the Beethoven sound as fresh as a brand-new piece. It wasn’t that she imposed any eccentricities, but that she brought out the inherent drama — the contrasts of volume and texture, the surprising accents, the slow movement’s heartfelt lyricism.”
    Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News, 11 May 2019

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    30 Mar 19 Dvořák/Ligeti/Bartok Deutsches Symphonie-orchester Berlin debut
    Philharmonie Berlin

    ”…the American Karina Canellakis on the podium […] takes on the programme featuring diverse repertoire with steel and decisiveness in equal parts” [TRANSLATION]
    Christiane Tewinkel, Der Tagsspiegel, 1 April 2019

    ”In the Philharmonie Canellakis demonstrated that she is an extraordinarily well-rounded conductor: precise and detailed gestures that resulted in an unusually sophisticated and cleanly executed beginning of Dvorak’s Noonwitch and end to Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. It is a rare occasion when orchestras and guest conductors harmonize that well after such a short time.”

    ‘Canellakis’ ability to draw such a broad dynamic range from the orchestra is definitely worth mentioning: from whispy aeolian harp-like pianissimos to regal brassy fortissimos. Both extremes exhibit a capturing sound, the quality of which never suffers under the baton of Canellakis, instead remaining consistently transparent and smooth. She adheres strictly to tempos and demonstrates an uncanny understanding for the structure of the works, from passages to developments and transitions. This understanding helped convey a stringent narrative throughout both the Noonwitch and the Concert for Orchestra.” [TRANSLATION]
    Clemens Haustein, Berliner Zeitung, 1 April 2019

    ”Canellakis’ reading of Antonín Dvořáks Noonwitch is not only meticulously performed but also features an array of different tonal colours” [TRANSLATION]
    Albrecht Selge,, 31 March 2019

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    18 Mar 19 Wagner/Shostakovich/Beethoven Gürzenich Orchester Köln
    Philharmonie Köln

    ”Canellakis’ dynamicism on the podium was a unique display of stupefying power coupled with gripping brilliance, further intensified by the way she coaxed a calm and dormant Siegfried motif from the horns and Wagner tubas.” [TRANSLATION]
    ★  ★  ★  ★ Jens Klier, Bachtrack, 19 March 2019

    ”Canellakis’ gesticulation was impulsive yet precise, perfectly complementing the orchestra’s powerful interpretation of the imbalance embedded in the composition.”[TRANSLATION]
    Rainer Nonnenmann, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 19 March 2019

    ”Canellakis and the orchestra set a vivid scene, intent on having a powerful impact.”[TRANSLATION]
    Mathias Nofze, Kölnische Rundschau, 18 March 2019

    ”Canellakis expresses a unique passion that enables her to motivate the musicians with her energetic and sometimes explosive style of conducting. She also displays a knack for lyricism that helped her showcase both the beauty and bitterness of the second movement.” [TRANSLATION]
    Mathias Nofze, General Anzeiger, 19 March 2019

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    06 Mar 19 Mozart - Don Giovanni Curtis Institue
    Perelman Theater

    ”Canellakis made the orchestra an equal partner throughout by evoking the buoyant charms of a wind serenade or arrival moments of nobility.”
    Peter Dobrin, The Inquierer, 8 March 2019

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    19 Jan 19 Strauss/Hindemith St. Louis Symphony Debut
    Powell Symphony Hall

    [Regarding Strauss] ”Canellakis brought together its disparate strands and made them into an enchanting whole.

    She did the same with Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.” There was tremendous energy in the big opening movement; the scherzo, based on faux-Chinese music for “Turandot,” was delightful. The boffo ending was the perfect ending for a first-rate concert.”
    Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post Dispatch, 20 January 2019

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    04 Jan 19 Rachmaninov / Britten / Elgar Cincinnati Symphony
    Cincinnati Music Hall

    ”Her leadership was clear, thoughtful and dynamic, and every gesture made perfect musical sense. […] Canellakis’ interpretation had an appealing aura of nostalgia. She was attentive to phrasing, knowing just how to make a tender theme breathe, or how to push ahead in a dramatic moment.”
    Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier, 4 January 2019

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    24 Nov 18 Prokofiev West Australian Symphony Debut
    Perth Concert Hall

    ”Conductor Karina Canellakis was both intense and expansive as the piece unfolded, moving from grand gesture to micro management with effortless grace.”
    David Cusworth, The West Australian, 25 November 2018


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    17 Nov 18 Dvorak / Shostakovich / Beethoven Melbourne Symphony Orchestre Debut
    Hamer Hall

    ”An outstanding performance, unafraid to take risks and brilliant from start to finish.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Raphael Solarsh , Arts Hub, 20 November 2018

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    21 Sep 18 Lili Boulanger Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
    Marcus Center

    ”Canellakis and the players made the unfamiliar familiar, moving easily between the piece’s delicately sculpted lines and its dense, full-voiced sounds. They made Boulanger’s musical passages sing, and carried listeners to a breathtakingly shimmering ending.”
    Elaine Schmidt, Journal Sentinel, 21st September 2018

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    11 Sep 18 Brahms Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Hollywood Bowl

    ”Again, Canellakis demonstrated a graceful baton technique and musicality that was reflected in the playing of the Philharmonic. The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic recently signed her on as its new chief conductor, starting in 2019, and that orchestra is lucky to have her.”
    Richard S. Ginell, Los Angeles Times, 13th September 2018

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    23 Jul 18 BBC Proms
    Royal Albert Hall

    ”Canellakis, newly appointed chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, directs with muscularity and spirit, but not a shred of needless flamboyance. Clarity is her hallmark. Beethoven’s explosive “Coriolan” overture made you sit up. The glowing colours of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances (1940) sounded unusually vivid and transparent.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 28th July 2018

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    13 Jun 18 Orchestre de Paris Debut
    Philharmonie de Paris

    “The young 36-year-old conductor exhibits precise gestures, an excellent amount of balance and a masterful art of transparency which makes these sometimes creamy scores wonderfully palatable for the listener. Conducting of a beautiful lyric vein as well, which succeeds particularly in the middle section of the first Rachmaninov dance.” [TRANSLATION]
    Vincent Agrech, Diapason, 16th June 2018

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    29 Apr 18 Webern Curtis Institute Orchestra
    Verizon Hall, Philadelphia

    ”Canellakis and the orchestra […] stunned with the precision of the piece’s incisive orchestrations — unusual and potent combinations that underscored individual and ensemble talent. And, despite the work’s being untethered to the kind of harmonic hierarchies we are used to hearing, great emotion followed.”
    Peter Dobrin, The Inquirer, 30th April 2018

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    22 Apr 18 Beethoven Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
    Royce Hall

    ”Canellakis’ high-wire act was a dare. The players were kept on the edge of their seats. Something could have derailed it at any moment. Nothing did. It was great.”
    Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 24th April 2018

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    14 Apr 18 Brahms Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
    Chan Centre for Performing Arts

    ”Canellakis did a remarkable job of finding the lyrical radiance and ebb-and-flow of the opening movement, putting it together with coherence, beautifully shaped string lines, and the needed dramatic force. This was all about beauty and poetry […] An interesting folk character infused the start of the Andante, moving forward with quieter hues, but always summoning the lyrical reach of the strings. The sensuality and tenderness of the following movement were tantalizing, while the finale completed this warm and wondrous journey perfectly, supporting all the expressive features exposed earlier, and winding down with the type of radiant feeling and natural release we now understood so readily.”
    Geoffrey Newman, Vancouver Classical Music, 15th April 2018

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    16 Mar 18 Shostakovich/Beethoven Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
    TivoliVredenburg Utrecht

    ”In Shostakovich’s first cello concerto she delivered a balanced accompaniment, in which all rhythmic pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. […]

    The energy and fierceness with which Canellakis attacked the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven suggested that she had learned something from Jaap van Zweden, whom she stood by for some time as an assistant in Dallas. The coughs barely had a chance between the movements and despite all the driving force she maintained serenity and stability at the same time.” [TRANSLATION]
    Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant, 18th March 2018

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    21 Dec 17 Byström/Beethoven Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
    Stockholm Konserthus

    Canellakis is an infectious bundle of energy, who delivered Britta Byström’s “Persuasion” with bold precision. […] This atmosphere also characterised Karina Canellakis’ interpretation of Beethoven’s fifth symphony […] Similar to Herbert Blomstedt, the music was fast paced; completely irresistible with the double bass in the trio of the third movement. Karina Canellakis’ fierce technique (including eager jumping) radiated energy. […] She kept the Philharmonic sharp, bringing out the best in them. [TRANSLATION]
    ★  ★  ★  ★  ★  Camilla Lundberg, Dagens Nyheter, 23rd December 2017

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    15 Dec 17 Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Edinburgh / Glasgow

    ”Just as entertaining was the concert’s opener, John Adams’s witty Son of Chamber Symphony, given a sparkling, punchy account by a slimmed-down SCO under young US conductor Karina Canellakis, who threw herself into the conducting with gutsy, determined gestures.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ David Kettle, The Scotsman, 16th December 2017

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    05 Sep 17 BBC Prom Debut
    Royal Albert Hall

    ”Is she the new Mirga? Comparisons with Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s lightning bolt, definitely came to mind as the American firecracker Karina Canellakis made her Proms debut, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Take the incisive, generous hand gestures, the interpretive probing, plus the ravenous enthusiasm of youth (well, comparatively: Canellakis is 35). And brio, piles of brio. The only difference is that Canellakis doesn’t try to conduct and be a ballerina at the same time.

    Conductor and orchestra reached their peak in the first movement of Dvorák’s Eighth Symphony, which was shaped with microscopic precision, yet still with its hot emotions and natural flow intact. Bright little subtleties in phrasing sparkled from the woodwinds. In the third movement’s trio section an eastern European lilt eluded the strings, but there wasn’t anything drastically wrong with the home counties equivalent. And above and beyond the dancing colours, Canellakis displayed a total grasp of this loveable symphony’s wayward structure. A performance to treasure.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★  Geoff Brown, The Times, 7th September 2017

    ”The immediacy of Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony tends to obscure its formal innovations, but Canellakis’s emphasising of this, along with her concern with phrasing, ensured a reading of conviction. […]the Adagio was ideally judged in expressive fervour, with the intermezzo’s melodic lilt kept buoyant through to its lively close.”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ Richard Whitehouse, The Independant, 6th September 2017

    ”It can’t be too long before “women” no longer needs to prefix “conductors” to define what’s still a rare breed. Yet seven at the Proms is certainly an improvement, with many more coming up through the ranks. And American Karina Canellakis turned out to be very much the season’s final trump card. She seemed precise and watchful in a new work and in getting the BBC Symphony Orchestra to keep perfect tabs on live-wire Jeremy Dank in Bartók’s dizzying Second Piano Concerto (he watched, too, in return). But it was Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony which defined the Canellakis style – keenly-spring and lucid, encouraging bags of personality from the players.

    Canellakis’s Dvořák was high, lucid and bright from start to finish. Brisk but never rushing, she always allowed the woodwind their characterful voice through the textures and space to achieve their Bohemian magic, from the new dawn of Michael Cox’s peerless flute solo through some unconventional but convincing phrasing in the mysteries of the slow movement through to the roll of clarinets in the finale. As with the Bartók, you were left to gasp at the invention of the music – not a slack moment in either masterpiece”
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ David Nice,, 6th September 2017

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    02 Sep 17 Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin Debut
    Mecklenburgh Vorpommern Festival

    ”After the break of the three-hour concerto, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A major appeared. Here one could study the collaboration of the orchestra with the American conductor. Karina Canellakis, who was previously known as an outstanding violinist, led the musicians with clear and precise movements, which seemed almost studentish. But in their individual form they met exactly the core of their intentions. They presented a very special Beethoven, relaxed and full of joy, into the full-sounding Fortissimo, without any kind of exasperation. Then a mysterious second movement was followed by a fast-paced scherzo, which almost always existed from the wrist, as well as the finale with the utmost pleasure in the wild game. For this great Beethoven interpretation, the audience thanked the conductor with persistent cheers.” [Translation]
    Michael Baumgartl,, 3rd September 2017

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    08 Aug 17 Mendelssohn Los Angeles Philharmonic Debut
    Hollywood Bowl

    ”[Canellakis] has a graceful, flowing, confident baton technique and a repertoire of facial expressions that could be quizzical, mischievous, determined or forceful. She gives the impression that she savors the music, and what she communicates through her motions and expressions could be heard in the playing of the L.A. Phil.”
    Richard S. Ginell, Los Angeles Times, 9th August 2017

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    10 Mar 17 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

    ”She closed the concert with Beethoven’s spritely, sneakily innovative, and beloved Eighth Symphony. Canellakis and the orchestra had no problem capturing the wit and brio of the piece, … and it earned conductor and orchestra an extended ovation.”
    Paul Kosidowski, Milwaukee Magazine, 14th March 2017

    ”Canellakis and the orchestra closed the Friday morning program with a sunny, somehow optimistic performance of the four-movement work that was filled with stylish, meaningful turns of musical phrase and fine ensemble playing…”
    Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journel Sentinel, 10th March 2017

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    03 Feb 17 Royal Northern Sinfonia Debut
    The Sage Gateshead

    ”The dynamic young conductor Karina Canellakis made an indelible impression on a packed audience at Sage Gateshead when she directed Royal Northern Sinfonia …, her conducting style was elegant with every gesture carrying a meaning, as she negotiated nimble turns of phrase, thrilling bursts of acceleration and lilting dances.
    Gavin Engelbrecht, The Northern Echo, 6th February 2017

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    19 Jan 17 Rachmaninov & Messiaen Malmo Symphony Debut

    [On Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances] ‘’Elegant orchestration, vivid dynamics and also several harmonically interesting passages, values are not reflected in more perfunctory interpretations. Karina Canellakis apostrophised these values and gave the work a freshness and energy that you never thought possible…

    The evening began with “Hymne au Saint Sacrement” by Olivier Messiaen in an excellent interpretation that highlighted both the intricate musical architecture and the underlying religious sincerity.’’ [Translation]


    ”Elegant orkestrering, målande dynamik och även åtskilliga harmoniskt intressanta passager, värden som inte kommer fram i mer slentrianmässiga tolkningar.
    Karina Canellakis apostroferade dessa värden och gav verket en friskhet och energi som man inte trodde var möjlig…
    Aftonen inleddes med ”Hymne au Saint Sacrement” av Olivier Messiaen i en utomordentlig tolkning som framhävde både den intrikata musikaliska arkitekturen och den bakomliggande religiösa innerligheten.”
    Lars-Erik Larsson, Skånska Dagbladet, 22nd January 2017

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    15 Oct 16 Berg & Rachmaninov Vancouver Symphony Debut
    Orpheum Theatre

    “…Rachmaninov’s sprawling Second Symphony … proved a good measure of Canellakis’s technique and taste. Though expressive and engaged, she is disinclined to play to the gallery. Intentions are clear, with no histrionics or fuss. And the results speak for themselves. As for taste, it was apparent from the first notes of the introductory Largo that Canellakis’s Rachmaninov idiom is anchored in a strong, even sumptuous string sound … her reading was assured and purposeful. While her sterling musical values were better demonstrated in her fastidious work in the [Berg] Concerto, the Rachmaninov symphony revealed an impressive conductor on what may be the brink of a major career.”
    David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun, 16th October 2016

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    25 Jun 16 Beethoven Concentus Musicus Wien
    Styriarte Festival, Graz

    ‘’Her interpretation succeeded admirably in bringing out the manic energy of Beethoven with a raging 3rd and 4th movement of the symphony, a tour de force, which elicited calls of Bravo and – once again – a standing ovation.’’ [Translation]

    ‘’Ihr Anliege, die ‘verrückte Energie Beethovens’’ zu zeigen, gelang vortrefflich im rasenden3. Und 4. Satz der sinfonia, einem Kraftakt, der Bravorufe und – erneut – Standing Ovations hervorrief.’’
    Eva Schulz, Kleine Zeitung 28th June 2016

    ‘’Karina Canellakis was well received, she persevered with spirit breaking into a new artistic milieu and garnering a standing ovation at the end of the concert.’’ [Translation]

    ‘’Gut angekommen ist auch Karina Canellakis, die sich mit Verve bemühte, ein neues künstlerisches Milieu zu betreten und die am Ende des Eröffnungskonzert stehende Ovationen erntete.’’
    Derek Weber, Salzburger Nachrichten 27th June 2016

    ‘’…the young conductor demonstrated emphatically that she has an enormous talent for conveying the power and brilliance of music.’’ [Translation]

    ‘’…die junge Dirigentin demonstrierte mit Nachdruck, dass sie über ein enormes Talent verfügt, die Energie und die Brillanz von Music zu Vermitteln.’’
    Martin Gasser, Krone Zeitung 27th June 2016

    ‘’…the young conductor Karina Canellakis stood at the podium of the period instrument orchestra and really achieved what she set out to do with Beethoven’s 1st and 8th Symphonies with precision and an emphasis of the details.’’ [Translation]

    ‘’…die junge Dirigentin Karina Canellakis am Pult des
    Originalklang-Ensembles gestanden und hat ihre Sache bei Beethovens erster und achter Symphonie mit Präzision und Hervorhebung von Details gut gemacht.’’
    Tiroler Tageszeitung 26th June 2016

    ‘’Taking it to its limits, it was a tour de force between forte and fortissimo, in which the conductor spanned the required dynamics, differentiating between soft and beautifully soft.’’ [Translation]

    ‘’Das Werk ist bei ihr Exzess, ein Parforceritt zwischen Forte und Fortissimo, wobei die Dirigentin im Bedarfsfall die Dynamik weit spannt, auch zwischen leise und sehr leise wunderbar ausdifferenziert.’’
    Martin Gasser, Krone Zeitung 28th June 2016

    ”The New Yorker ventured into the realm of a period instrument orchestras for the first time and won. Not only the listeners who she impressed last year with the Dvorak project; the 34year-old was rewarded with a standing ovation – a lovely gesture: ‘Come again!”’

    ”Die New Yorkerin wagte sich erstmals an das Pult eines Originalklangor-orchesters – und gewann. Nicht nur die Zuhörer, die sich schon im Vorjahr an einem Dvorak-Projekt der 34- Jährigen begeistert hatten und sie nun mit Standing Ovations belohnten – wohl auch als schöne Geste: ‘Come again!”’
    Michael Tschida, Kleine Zeitung 27th June 2016

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    04 Feb 16 Mozart & Shostakovich Last Minute Dallas Symphony Orchestra Step-in

    “Not until 20 minutes before Thursday night’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert did Karina Canellakis learn that she’d be conducting it … It was Canellakis’ second late substitution for van Zweden in a Mozart-and-Shostakovich program. The last time, in October 2014, she took over halfway through a four-performance run including the formidable Shostakovich Eighth Symphony. This time she’s conducting all four performances of a program including the Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor (K. 491).

    Those of us who witnessed one of those 2014 performances, and some subsequent ones in the DSO’s ReMix series, weren’t surprised at the results this time at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Once again, in a fiercely challenging program, admittedly benefitting from van Zweden’s rehearsals, Canellakis took over with absolute authority … With gestures clear yet expressive, Canellakis realized every emotional import, managing every transition with assurance, building climaxes with inevitability. She knew what the music was about, where it was going and why…”
    Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News, 4th February 2016

    “An orchestral program of Mozart’s darkest piano concerto and Shostakovich’s most complex symphony would challenge a conductor under any circumstances. Thursday night at Meyerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Symphony’s assistant conductor Karina Canellakis stepped in for music director Jaap van Zweden (who was called away on a family emergency), with less than 24 hours’ notice to take on this task, with impressive success.

    That Canellakis was up to the assignment was evident from the first moment in her confident and precise delivery of the multi-layered lines in the somber orchestral introduction of Mozart’s Concerto No. 24 in C minor, which nicely set up the stark entry of piano soloist David Fray … With a much larger orchestra on stage after intermission (including percussion stationed in the midst of the violin section), Canellakis took on Shostakovich’s mammoth, 80-minute Symphony No. 7 … While Canellakis had demonstrated admirable command of both emotional and technical detail in the Mozart, she admirably expanded those same qualities into Shostakovich’s epic score, knowing exactly when and how to produce the bombast of battle, and, even more impressively, how to communicate the sorrow and anguish presented in the later movements. This listener entered the concert hall confident that van Zweden would pull this off with style, and left even more impressed with the young conductor who achieved the same accomplishment on short notice.”
    Wayne Lee Gay, Dallas Observer, 5th February 2016

    “With less than 20 minutes notice, the Dallas Symphony’s assistant conductor, Karina Canellakis, stepped in to conduct a difficult program … Bottom line? She did a terrific job … The assistant conductor lot in life is to sit and wait. They are usually young without the repertoire that more experienced conductors have at their fingertips. Also, conductors pick the season with three kinds of pieces: those they know cold (and don’t require much study time,) those they want to learn and those they already know but want to brush up on. This list, naturally, almost never coincides with the assistant’s list so they have to absorb a huge amount of music. So, the assistant sits through all of the rehearsals, making notes on how the conductor has conceived the major parameters, such as tempo and balance. That is not the same as pondering the architecture of the work and determining the tier of the dynamics. Putting their own stamp on it, as it were. With this in mind, it would be patently ridiculous, as well as insulting, to parse over the little details of her performance. What she deserves is unqualified praise. But make no mistake; her performance, under very difficult circumstances, was not some stroke of luck. It was the earned reward for a lot of hard work. As the saying goes, fate favors the prepared”
    Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones Reviews, 6th February 2016

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    10 Jan 16 San Diego Symphony Guest Week
    San Diego

    “…Respighi’s orchestration of five Rachmaninoff piano “Études-tableaux” was the weekend’s one real rarity. Russian somberness and Italian orchestral fountains find each other here with brilliant results. At least the results were brilliant under Canellakis. I have never heard this orchestra sound more alive. Both LACO and San Diego will soon have openings for a new music director. Canellakis is worth fighting over…”
    Mark Swed, LA Times, 13th January 2016

    “…Canellakis is as slightly built, and probably as hard to break, as a rapier blade. That she knows every detail of the music she leads was evident. There is no excess in her work; everything superfluous has been eliminated, and her baton technique is an exemplar of economy and clarity…”
    Marcus Overton, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10th January 2016

    “…In her Friday appearance with the San Diego Symphony, Canellakis demonstrated both her authority on the podium and her easy rapport with the players while conducting a pair of concertos with Hamelin as soloist. She paced “Pictures” well, keeping a sweeping sense of movement from one scene to another while bringing the details of each scene into sharp relief…”
    Ken Herman, San Diego Story, 10th January 2016

    “…Guest conductor Karina Canellakis, the Dallas Symphony’s Assistant Conductor, served as Hamelin’s amiable partner in crime, judiciously attuning the orchestra to his meticulous inflections and tempos. … Canellakis’ long arms arced wildly over her charges, pressing them forward to realize her heady visions…”
    Ken Herman, San Diego Story, 9th January 2016

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    08 Dec 15 Cincinnati Symphony Step-in

    “…Canellakis, a New York native and protégé of Sir Simon Rattle, is a major conducting talent whose star is rapidly rising. She impressed local audiences last summer, when she made her debut with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. She is currently assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony.

    So clear and confident was her direction, it was mesmerizing to watch her lead Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, in the evening’s second half. Even though this symphony was a wartime piece, it is one of Prokofiev’s sunniest works, and he called it “a hymn to the freedom of the human spirit.”

    Under Canellakis’ baton, the performance had an irresistible freshness of spirit. her view was romantic and lyrical in the first movement. The lightness of the string sound was striking, but she knew just how to balance that with an exciting drive to the finish. The scherzo movement, offering a marked contrast, featured terrific staccato passages in the brass and energized playing from wind soloists.

    The impression that lingered, though, was how naturally the conductor allowed the music to unfold, no matter what the tempo. She took her time in the arching themes of the slow movement. The finale was both atmospheric and lyrical, yet momentum never sagged in the drive to its extraordinary finish…”
    Janelle Gelfand,, 5th December 2015

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    11 Nov 15 An Arabian feast: Karina Canellakis and the Hong Kong Phil
    Asian debut

    “…Although it might not have been conductor Karina Canellakis’ intention to focus on tunes and rhythms borrowed from the East in the works, her meticulous attention to the score brought out the best individual characteristics of each, and created a mood for an evening worthy of an Arabian feast. he overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart, with its boisterous rhythm and tingling accoutrements from the percussion, threw the party open in high spirits. The pensive interlude that follows was soon overtaken by the romp of the opening theme to a rousing close. Lunging and stooping in clear gestures to get the most out of the orchestra, Canellakis infused Mozart’s overture not only with energy, but poise and majesty …  Conductor Karina Canellakis’ broad vision captured the variety of mood swings perfectly and fully exploited all the lyrical and grand-standing opportunities. … With boundless energy and consummate skill, Karina Canellakis tamed a programme of disparate works into a whole that excited and pleased at the same time.”
    Alan Yu, Bachtrack, 8th November 2015

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    28 Aug 15 Chamber Orchestra of Europe Debut
    Styriarte Festival, Graz

    “Wie ersetzt man kurzfristig einen Mann, der eigentlich unersetzlich ist? Diese Frage musste sich Intendant Mathis Huber stellen, nachdem klar wurde, dass Altmeister Nikolaus Harnoncourt aufgrund einer Erkrankung das Konzert im Rahmen des Festivals Styriarte nicht wie geplant dirigieren können würde. Die Wahl fiel schließlich auf die junge amerikanische Dirigentin Karina Canellakis, die „Option Zukunft“, wie Huber dem Publikum mitteilte. Bevor es losging gab es dann aber doch noch einen Auftritt von Harnoncourt – wenn auch nur per Videoeinspielung – bei dem er Canellakis auch seine Partitur mit etlichen Anmerkungen überließ. Der erste Teil des Konzerts, Dvořáks Goldenes Spinnrad, war nämlich als Gesprächskonzert angekündigt, und da Karina Canellakis auch hervorragend Deutsch spricht, führte sie das Publikum in die Geschichte sowie in die Themen und Motive der Symphonischen Dichtung ein. … Dadurch, dass Canellakis zunächst jedes Thema kurz anspielen ließ und erklärte, welches Instrument bzw. welche Instrumentengruppen eine Figur oder Stimmung charakterisieren, wurde das Märchen wirklich als solches erlebbar; vor meinem geistigen Auge spielte sich danach die Handlung in tatsächlichen Bildern ab. Das Chamber Orchestra of Europe erzählte die blutrünstige Geschichte mit einer breiten Palette an Farben, wobei die dunklen Momente, zum Beispiel der Mord in kraftvollem Fortissimo, besonders packend gerieten.

    Lieblich zart hingegen trat die Solovioline auf als Verkörperung der naiven Dornička, mit romantisch sehnsuchtsvollen Bögen und verletzlich wirkenden Phrasierungen. Als Gegenpart zu ihrem melancholischen Thema fungierte der vom Zauberer geschickte Knabe, der in der Flöte mit jugendlicher Leichtigkeit beschwingt zum Ausdruck kam. Richtiggehend zu schwelgen schien das Orchester in Walzer und Polka am Hochzeitsfest des Königs, in denen Canellakis die Musiker zu flotten Tempi animierte, ebenso wie im strahlenden Schluss, in dem die Fröhlichkeit und Lebensfreude überbordeten. … Der anfänglichen Bitte des Intendanten, der jungen Dirigentin und dem „Abenteuer Zukunft“ eine Chance zu geben, hätte es eigentlich gar nicht bedurft. Karina Canellakis’ spannungsgeladene und düstere Interpretation der Werke Dvořáks und ihr großer Enthusiasmus am Pult des Chamber Orchestra of Europe sprachen ohnehin für sich.”
    Isabella Steppan, 30th June 2015

    “Im 30. Jahr seines Wirkens beim steirischen Klassik-Festival war Harnoncourt erstmals gezwungen, krankheitshalber ein Konzert abzusagen. Wenige Tage vor der Aufführung fand man die amerikanische Dirigentin Canellakis als Ersatz, und die junge Musikerin warf sich mit Leidenschaft und Können in die heikle Aufgabe. … Dvoraks achte Symphonie, ein Stück zwischen Heiterkeit, Leidenschaft und leichter Schwermut, durchsetzt von Anklängen an Volkslieder. Die Natur ist bei Karina Canellakis nicht unbedingt lieblich, sie hat etwas Starkes, fast Unbarmherziges. Trotzdem ertönten auch schmerzlich-schöne Bögen, bevor das Stück in einem glanzvollen Aufrauschen des auch in der Lautstärke präzisen Orchesters ausklang.”
    Salzburg24, June 28th 2015

    “Graz (APA) – Die US-Dirigentin Karina Canellakis hat ihre undankbare Aufgabe, just bei der „styriarte“ für Nikolaus Harnoncourt einzuspringen, Samstagabend gut gemeistert. Sie leitete das Konzert „Dvorak pur“ im Grazer Stephaniensaal und führte das Chamber Orchestra of Europe sicher durch die gefühlvolle achte Symphonie. Zuvor erläuterte und dirigierte sie die symphonische Dichtung „Das goldene Spinnrad“. Im 30. Jahr seines Wirkens beim steirischen Klassik-Festival war Nikolaus Harnoncourt erstmals gezwungen, krankheitshalber ein Konzert abzusagen. Wenige Tage vor der Aufführung fand man die amerikanische Dirigentin Karina Canellakis als Ersatz, und die junge Musikerin warf sich mit Leidenschaft und Können in die heikle Aufgabe.”
    Tiroler Tageszeitung, 28th June 2015

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    20 Mar 15 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
    Los Angeles

    “Canellakis is an astonishing musician … she is also the model of a modern musician … She has a contagious command of rhythm, which she signals through her whole body … Adams Shaker Loops  – The details, shaking strings, swooping inner lines, chugging Minimalist beats all had extraordinary vitality. There was no instant, no detail that didn’t come to life … Schubert Symphony No. 5 Canellakis’ performance was brisk, propulsive and exquisitely detailed. She shaped Schubertian melody lovingly … When she gestured the orchestra to rise after the Schubert, the players remained seated in a rare tribute to a young conductor making her debut. Remember her name. If LACO doesn’t grab her, some other orchestra eager to embrace the future will. And likely soon.”
    Mark Swed, LA Times, 26th January 2015

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    20 Mar 15 Dallas Symphony Orchestra - Step-in for Jaap van Zweden


    “…In a program including the long and fearsomely challenging Eighth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, she rose spectacularly to the challenge Saturday night (as last minute replacement for Jaap van Zweden), leading with great clarity and expressivity. Even in the shifting time signatures of the Shostakovich, one always knew what meter was in play, and where each downbeat was. In the opening Mozart E-flat major Piano Concerto (No. 14, K. 449) [soloist Emanuel Ax] the motions of her body even conveyed how notes were to be sounded and phrases tapered. Yes, the orchestra had been fastidiously prepared by van Zweden, but Canellakis still beautifully conveyed shape, direction and breath. She certainly displayed excellent technique and sophisticated musicianship. There was a roaring and well-deserved ovation at the end, the musicians even signaling their approval by waving bows and stomping feet…”
    Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, 5th October 2014


Click here to read an interview in the German magazine published in March 2020 celebrating Karina’s concerts with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Munich Philharmonic.

Karina has been appointed Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, to begin in September 2019. Click here to read an article in and here for an exclusive interview with Dutch newspaper (English translation here).

Karina was interviewed by Classical Music Magazine for their February edition, click here to read more.

Click here to read Karina’s first ever interview in German for SRF – Logos Download (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen).